Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein met Pope Francis in Rome Sunday evening. Edelstein thanked the pope for his contribution to the strengthening of Jewish-Christian relations and requested that he stress in his homilies that Israel is the Holy Land.
”Your call for pilgrimages to the Land of Israel is extremely important,” the Knesset speaker told Pope Francis. ”It will certainly bring massive tourism that will contribute to Israel`s economy- for the benefit of Jews and Arabs alike – and this may lead to stability and calm.”
While in Rome, Speaker Edelstein also met with the President of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy, Laura Boldrini, and asked that she work to prevent the scheduled visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to her country, particularly in light of Iran`s plan to hold another international Holocaust cartoon contest.
During the meeting on Friday, Edelstein said ”a man who denies and mocks the Holocaust is not worthy of entering the gates of Europe.”
Edelstein and Boldrini during meeting in Rome
Boldrini noted that Islamophobia was on the rise in Europe, particularly after the recent incidents in Cologne. ”The effect was strong,” she told Edelstein, who said in response that ”Many countries will have to learn how to strike a balance between being free countries with liberties and respecting the uniqueness of the migrants.”
During a meeting with European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Berlin Thursday evening, Edelstein said, ”Countries and people in Europe cannot say they oppose anti-Semitism and in the same breath be anti-Israel. Israel will survive the labelling of products (manufactured in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and Jerusalem). Those who will not survive are the thousands of Palestinian families who work shoulder to shoulder with their Jewish friends and have a shared life there. It will hurt their economy, their lives and their families, and it will destroy the seeds of peace that exist in those employment zones.”
”Wines from the Golan are being boycotted in Europe. I am willing to cede the Golan. Just tell me, to whom? To Syria? To ISIS?” Edelstein stated.
Edelstein (L) meets with Schulz (R)
Edelstein also addressed a clip that was broadcast on Channel 2’s Uvda program last week, which showed an activist working for the NGO Ta’ayush bragging on a hidden camera that he turns in Palestinians who sell land to Jews to the Palestinian Authority to be tortured and killed. ”The European Union should be careful not to fund organizations that send people to be executed,” he said.
Schulz said ”the relations between Israel and Germany are good, in contrast to the relations between Israel and Sweden. The growing anti-Semitism should concern all of Europe. I oppose labelling products from the territories. It will mainly hurt the Palestinians, who make an honest living there.”